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Downtown Windsor councillor pauses push to re-locate drug consumption site

Community members held signs in support of the CTS site coming to downtown Windsor. (Darrin Di Carlo/CBC - image credit)
A compromise over the location of a drug consumption and treatment site in Windsor has been reached, according to the city’s downtown councillor. 

Ward 3 Coun. Renaldo Agostino was expected to ask the city to revoke its support of the proposed location of the site during Monday’s council meeting. Instead, Agostino held back on bringing his motion forward because he struck the “perfect deal” with officials from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

He told CBC News that the new motion, which is expected to come forward at the next council meeting in February, will suggest that the city look to find another location after the site opens at the approved spot.

“It’s a great day for downtown, I’m so excited,” he said, adding that he’s still working out the details with the health unit.

“SafePoint will open, we have found a compromise to a location… and making sure it’s the best location for all of downtown. There will be no gap in services for anyone.”

Community advocates for site to move forward

A few hours before Monday’s council meeting, dozens of community members rallied outside of Windsor’s city hall advocating for the city to continue its support of the site. They shouted “shame,” directed towards councillors who are against the proposed site’s location, and shared stories of loved ones dying from opioid overdoses.

“People in our community are going to die because of the carelessness of our politicians,” said co-organizer of the rally Bilal Nasser.

He said that their message was that councillors voting in Agostino’s favour were “standing against basic morality.”

“The longer it takes for this to open, the longer people in this community, who require these services are not going to [have them] and that is going to cost lives,” he said.

But shortly after the council meeting started, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens announced that the motion to move the site would not be heard. As a result, many community members got up to leave and one told CBC News that they were hopeful, but skeptical about the postponed motion.

Last week, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) said the site, located at 101 Wyandotte St. E., was getting renovated. Health officials were hopeful that the space could open by the end of March, pending approval from upper levels of government.

It has taken WECHU nearly six years to bring a consumption and treatment services site (CTS) to the region.

Agostino’s motion almost set back nearly six years of work, including consultations and data collection, done by WECHU to bring a consumption and treatment services site to the region.

In 2021, the region had 86 people die from opioid overdoses — the most recorded to date in Windsor-Essex.

The health unit said that if this site doesn’t move forward, 157 people are projected to die from opioid overdoses in 2026.

Darrin Di Carlo/CBC

Faith leaders show support for CTS


Over the weekend, a group of faith leaders penned an open letter to councillors asking them not to support the motion. The letter notes that the project has already been approved democratically by the previous city council.

“We believe that this is a life-saving service and should not be delayed for any reason,” states the letter, signed by more than two dozen leaders of local congregations.

Robert Clifford, the director of the Anglican All Saints’ Church in downtown Windsor, is one of the faith leaders who signed the letter. 

He said the new CTS site already has an ideal location.

“It’s halfway between Water World, which is the outreach centre of the city, and the Downtown Mission, as well as the Ouellette campus of the hospital,” he said. “There is no site that would be so well suited that it would not have neighbours. The ideal clients of the consumption site are in this neighbourhood and they need to be served where they live.”

Agostino’s motion is expected to be brought before the next council meeting on Feb. 13.

Credit belongs to : ca.news.yahoo.com

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